The USDA has released a misleading report – which hides abuse of research animals and under-estimates the number of animals in labs, charged a national research watchdog organization, S.A.E.N.
The Animal Welfare Enforcement Report (AWER) posted just two days ago by the USDA reveals an annual increase in overall animal experimentation of 6%, but some species saw increases of as much as 101%. According to the USDA, the use of non-human primates in experimentation increased by 5%, and while the number of animals used in experimentation increased by 6%, the number of Animal Welfare Act violations by laboratories for the same period increased by 19%.
However, Stop Animal Exploitation NOW (SAEN) claims the AWER is "fraught with errors," and could understate the number of primates used in research by as much as 50 percent.
"The compilation of such a shoddy report raises serious questions about the ability of the USDA as a regulatory agency," said Michael A. Budkie, A.H.T., Executive Director of Cincinnati-based SAEN. "This report conveniently fails to mention animals used by labs for breeding or conditioning, which is sometimes the largest section of the population."
In just two states - South Carolina and Louisiana – USDA tabulations neglected to mention 18,277 (86%) of the primates kept by labs. Similar omissions occurred in a more than 14 states.
The AWER is compiled annually by the United States Department of Agriculture/Animal & Plant Health Inspection Service (USDA/APHIS) to report on agency activities regarding enforcement of the Animal Welfare Act. One main focus of the report is the compilation of statistics regarding animal experimentation.
According to SAEN reporting of statistics on animals used in painful experimentation is also seriously flawed. "Experiments which subject animals to extreme confinement or severe hunger and thirst are often not counted as causing pain or distress," added Budkie. "One California lab actually had more animals experiencing pain or distress from experimentation than the USDA reported for the entire state."